2015 La Canoa Legacy Talks

Arreglos entre vecinos: Foundations of community in the Rio Arriba

October 22, 2015

During this La Canoa Legacy Talk, José A. Rivera, Research Scholar for the Center for Regional Studies, raises and defines key terms that help uncover the roots of community in northcentral New Mexico dating to the period of early settlement. What is mutualismo? Ayuda mutua? Arreglos entre vecinos? Querencia? Settlers who made the journey from central and northern Mexico to the upper Río del Norte, now the Río Grande, petitioned for and were granted tracts of land, mercedes de tierra, by the Spanish Crown and later the nation of Mexico for the purpose of establishing permanent colonies based on irrigated agriculture. To anchor themselves in the desert environment, they formed local institutions for self-governance: land grants managed by a consejo de vecinos, acequias organized as irrigation societies, religious brotherhoods known as cofradías, and later, sociedades de ayuda mutua with networks of concilios locales throughout the northern New Mexico and southern Colorado region. Once established on the land, the pobladores developed rules of governance based on arreglos entre vecinos, neighbor to neighbor. In these remote places, la gente fended for themselves and modified their rules and other arrangements in response to changing economic, political or social conditions over hundreds of years. Resilience factors included Querencia, Mutualismo and Confianza (Attachment to Place, Mutual Help, Bonds of Trust).